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Bela Bajaria Talks Programming Strategy, Teases ‘The Crown’ Premiere Date At Netflix’s First Upfront

For years, Netflix had focused squarely on subscriber growth and becoming the dominant player in the streaming world. That changed last year when, after a big market correction, Netflix made a course correction with a focus on profits, including an ad-supported tier which launched in November.

Six months later, Netflix is holding its first upfront presentation for advertisers, which also marks the first major public speech by top programming executive Bela Bajaria since she was named Chief Content Officer for the streamer in January.

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During the virtual event, she spoke about “super serving” the audience — a term frequently used this upfront week — revealing that Netflix members “watch, on average, six different genres a month.”

Because of the unprecedented growth of Netflix’s original slate over the past decade, the streamer has faced criticism that it’s hard to maintain quality control on such large volume. Bajaria indicated that Netflix plans to continue to deliver content in every genre and for different tastes, arguing that not every show has to be liked by everyone.

“The range is amazing — from Ginny & Georgia to Murder Mystery, You to You People,” she said. “To do all of this – to super serve our members – we have to focus on quality, with the understanding that quality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.”

In listing some of Netflix’s biggest series and movies, including recent breakout hits The Night Agent and Queen Charlotte and the upcoming actioner Heart of Stone with Gal Gadot, Bajaria referenced Nielsen when referring to the streamer’s ratings success.

For years, Netflix had not been willing to disclose any ratings data — a strategy emulated by all of its streaming rivals — before starting to release its own viewership information using its own metrics. Gradually, Nielsen ratings started to find their way into Netflix’s earnings presentations. And, as the streamer has embraced commercials, it has further warmed up to third-party ratings used as currency by advertisers.

“This year alone, according to Nielsen, we’ve had the number one original TV show on streaming in the US for 15 out of 16 weeks — and the number one movie for 14 weeks,” said Bajaria who also addressed the global cultural impact of the streamer’s content.

While speaking of the “broad, diverse audience” Netflix is serving, Bajaria brought up her own story as UK and Zambia-raised daughter of Indian parents who came to the US when she was nine and got her crash course in American culture from TV shows like I Dream of Jeannie, The Love Boat, and Dynasty.

Out of the UK, Netflix’s Emmy-winning drama The Crown by Peter Morgan is heading into its sixth and final season, which chronicles the Royal family’s lives after Diana’s death, including Prince William and Kate Middleton’s college romance.

The Crown‘s sixth and final season “will premiere this fall,” Bajaria said.

Ever the disrupter, Netflix moved in to crash the traditional broadcast upfront week but pivoted from its planned in-person presentation to virtual over public safety concerns as the event was going to be picketed by the WGA.

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